Engaging the Private Sector in the UniWASH Project

What is the UniWASH Project?

UNICEF-Academia-Private Sector WASH Innovations Partnership Project, shortly UniWASH, aims at finding new solutions to everyday water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) related problems in Acholi region schools. These new solutions are expected to reduce water-borne illnesses and workload and time of girls and boys spent in fetching water, providing more time for attending school and studying. The project is expected to have a considerable long-term impact on the wellbeing and health of school children in UNICEF-supported schools in Uganda.

Innovation: elephant faucet.The UniWASH project is implemented jointly with UNICEF, Makerere University, Aalto and Helsinki Universities in Finland, and Biolan ltd, a Finnish water, sanitation, and hygiene company. The idea of the project is to have university students come up with innovative water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions to find answers to the current WASH related problems in Acholiland schools. Once students have tested their ideas and developed them into prototypes, they will be further developed, tested, produced, and commercialized by Ugandan small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) with the support of the project.

As an example, a prototype of the “Elephant Tap” has been developed during recent innovation work carried out by Aalto University. The participating companies will be provided with a training and capacity-building program, and they will be mentored by Biolan Ltd.

The Role of the Ugandan SMEs in the Project

In addition to finding solutions to WASH problems, the other overarching goal of the project is to develop Ugandan SMEs’ capacity on product development and marketing in order for them to create new jobs, boost the local economy and hence contribute to reducing poverty in the country.

Expected Results of the Private Sector Engagement in the Project

The project expected to achieve the following results:

  • Increased capacity of the local SMEs enrolled to the project on especially product development and marketing through the tailor-made training programs 
  • Increased combined business, technology and design knowledge of Biolan and the Aalto and Makerere university students and staff.
  • SMEs better understanding of the responsible business concept including taking child rights into consideration.
  • Locally manufactured commercial products implemented with the help of the project. 
  • The partner companies are perceived by the Ugandan business community as innovative examples on how to create new business opportunities and do business responsibly.
  • A model for future private sector engagement in commercializing social products.

What Does the Project Offer to Partner Companies?

The selected companies will:

  • Take part in a comprehensive trainings and mentoring program
  • Be exposed to international ideas and find new international partners
  • Benefit from the combined business, technology and design knowledge of Aalto and Makerere University students and staff
  • Benefit from Finnish company Biolan’s product development and business knowledge
  • Receive new and innovative product prototypes and ideas from university students and take part in the process of developing the prototypes and ideas into viable products
  • Receive help in applying for funding for commercializing the products developed through the project
  • Receive help in identifying and finding local and international markets and customers for the products

What is Expected from the Partner Companies?

  • Motivation to become a project partner and a commitment of at least 2 years
  • Responsible business behaviour towards its own workers, surrounding community and environment
  • Interest to build its staff’s capacity at all levels
  • Innovative and visionary thinking
  • Willingness to invest in its future and new product development
  • Commitment to commercialize the prototypes and ideas through finding new business opportunities


Contact Information

Mr. Eriab Kiiza, SME Capacity Building Project Consultant
Tel. +256 785 754 555 / 752 754 555
Email: [email protected]

Ms. Irene Leino, UNICEF Finland’s CSR advisor, Head of Project Private Sector Segment
Tel. +358 50 347 5485
Email: [email protected]